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Field Trip: Palace Theater, Manchester, NH

palace with arrow

Photo courtesy LHAT website, with my additions.

Once in a while, I get to crawl out of the depths of my theater and my city and take a trip to see how the other half lives. Recently, on a trip to New Hampshire to visit family, I was treated to a trip to see the opening night of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Manchester’s historic Palace Theatre, located at 80 Hanover Street.

This was quite the treat for me. I had been in attendance at the San Diego conference in 2012 where the Palace from the Outstanding Historic Theater award from the League of Historic American Theatres (a great professional organization, by the way); I had been jonesing to see it ever since. Relatedly, being able to watch a show, that I don’t have to do anything for, incognito, so to speak, is always delightful. No (or at least, less) stress, no professional cringing at technical issues, no worries about overly long concession lines, no need to address bathroom backups. None of the myriad “emergencies” that present themselves when dramatic people, and the people who love them, get together for a show.I was in working-vacation heaven.


The lovely LHAT statuette, designed by EverGreene Architectural Arts.

There is a lot to like about the Palace. The Will Call line was fast-moving and efficiently clerked, the lobbies were spacious and allowed for a free flow of traffic. They had a rather nice piece of donor wall-art, created with different-sized plates indicating donor levels. Other sponsors were alternated on the curtain before the show and listed in the program, some with topical and attractive program ads. The brochures and flyers that were available were attractively designed. Once inside the theater, the number of seats and size of the auditorium gave a cozy feel that lends itself well to seeing live theater. Our seats were in the third row, house left, and were well-spaced and comfortable. The complimentary beverage, and pre-orders taken by a friendly server, were a nice touch and made us feel special. They also saved us from standing in line at intermission! Certain tickets carry these perks.

The show was very well done. The performers were enthusiastic, energetic and talented, and the cast was peppered with some great dancers and singers, including a very young break dancer! The band of brothers were very funny and stole the show, and the audience enjoyed it thoroughly.

It was nice, as always, to see such a lovely historic space nestled comfortably into a thriving downtown area, and the Palace was located on a street with lighted trees and storefront shops. I would definitely visit again in the future. Kudos to everyone at the Palace—keep up the good work!

I’d love to hear about your travels to other venues and organizations. Feel free to contact me or share them below!


Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

teamwork2In planning our capital project at the theatre where I work, we are entering new territory. The variety of programs that we are planning, and the spaces in which we will be able to do them, will be multiplying by the time the project is finished.

As arts organizations, we are mission-driven to provide artistic and cultural experiences to our patrons, and often to the community at large, regardless of their age, income level or other factors. Chances are, unless you live in a very tiny town, there are other organizations that are obligated to better the lives of their community as well.

The great part about all of this enrichment and quality of life improvement is that it gives us many opportunities to collaborate. For example, some of the programs that we will be adding are music education and lessons, school programming, independent cinema, and a student theatrical program. Because this is our first foray, as administrators, into this territory, it could potentially be a mountain of work and coordination, and it might take us years to get it right.

Very fortunately for us, there are people in our community who already do these things on a smaller or piecemeal scale. A local teacher who schedules and gives piano lessons is working with us on our music education program. A group of teacher center directors is helping us to determine the best way to introduce programming into our schools. Another organization in our area who does a small amount of independent cinema wants to partner with us to promote their brand and serve a neighboring community. Our student theatrical program will be directed by a woman who has worked with various groups of young people in the areas of acting, creative movement and performance.

There is no need for us to reinvent the wheel, and learn from scratch skills and aptitudes that others have spent many years developing. Make a list of your ideas, and ask yourself who can help. If you are starting a new initiative, chances are that there is someone in your community that could lend advice, expertise or experience to your efforts. The time that you spend seeking them out will be a great investment in your future. Working together not only makes your projects more fundable, but it keeps you from duplicating services and splitting your audience with a more established program at another venue.

Have you had good experiences partnering with others in your community? Feel free to share them with us!